Senators Durbin and Cramer have joined as new cosponsors
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced that U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) have joined their bipartisan legislation to bring down the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs. The Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act would limit anticompetitive pay-for-delay deals that prevent or delay the introduction of affordable follow-on versions of branded pharmaceuticals. The use of “pay for delay” deals—the practice in which drug companies use pay-off agreements to delay the introduction of cheaper substitutes – could make some critical prescriptions unaffordable for patients and impose significant costs on our healthcare system. U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) have previously cosponsored this bill.
“I’m glad that we have the support of Senators Durbin and Cramer for our bipartisan legislation to spur competition in prescription drug markets, which will help to reduce prices and ensure patients can access the medications they need,” said Klobuchar. “By promoting increased competition from generic drugs and biosimilars, this legislation will help curb the skyrocketing costs of prescription medications.”
“When brand-name and generic drugmakers enter into anti-competitive pay-for-delay agreements, American consumers are left shouldering the burden of higher prices. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I’m focused on improving access to affordable medication, and competition is critical to lowering costs. This bill helps to reduce the price of prescription drugs by putting an end to anti-competitive practices, and I welcome the growing support for this effort,” said Grassley.
“A major driver of high health care premiums in America is the cost of prescription drugs, and we have to get a handle on these prices by looking at solutions members of both parties can agree on,” said Durbin. “Increasing competition and cracking down on shady Pharma deals will help lower prices of prescription drugs, and I’m glad to join my colleagues on this bipartisan bill that can help Americans afford the medications they need.”
“Rising prescription drug costs are an immediate concern, and pay-for-delay deals only exacerbate the problem,” said Cramer. “This legislation aims to reduce prescription drug prices by supporting the entrance of generic products into the market, thus lowering cost through free market competition.”
Klobuchar and Grassley have long supported efforts to combat anti-competitive tactics in the pharmaceutical market. The senators were the lead sponsors of the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act. Grassley and Klobuchar also reintroduced the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act, with Senator Leahy, which would address abuses and delay tactics that prevent generic companies from performing the necessary testing and distribution necessary for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Last Congress, the CREATES Act passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 14, 2018 on a strong, bipartisan vote of 16 to 5. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that the bill would result in almost $4 billion in savings.
Klobuchar has championed efforts to protect consumers and lower prescription drug costs by promoting competition in the healthcare system, authoring multiple pieces of bipartisan legislation that would address the high cost of prescription drugs. Klobuchar introduced legislation—that has 34 cosponsors—to lift the ban on Medicare negotiating for the best possible price of prescription drugs for nearly 41 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. In 2017, Klobuchar and the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, bipartisan legislation that would allow individuals to safely import prescription drugs from Canada. Klobuchar’s Short on Competition Act, introduced with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Grassley, and Durbin would allow the temporary importation of drugs that have been approved in another country with similar safety requirements and face little or no competition in the United States.
In November 2018, Klobuchar and Grassley sent a letter to the President urging him to support legislation to limit anticompetitive “pay-for-delay” pharmaceutical settlements as part of the Administration’s effort to bring down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs. Full text of the letter can be found here.
In a June 2018 letter, Klobuchar and Grassley urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine whether makers of biologic medicines are using strategies like “pay for delay” to hinder or delay biosimilars from entering the market. Full text of the letter can be found here.